The Slovenia Times

Transition of the City of Maribor to a Circular Economy


The Municipality is currently among the few, not just in Slovenia, which is redirecting its operations, the performance of its businesses and citizens, toward the efficient resource management model. Not only does it include the concept of a circular economy in the area of municipal waste, but also the implementation of the concept of waste management in construction and industry and the management of redundant energy, purified water and urban mobility. At the same time, the Municipality continues to implement a cooperative economy by promoting cooperation with NGOs, youth and the elderly. These activities highlight the extremely innovative approach of the city to policy-making, creating synergies for all groups of the population, the environment and the economy.

The Wcycle project is a strategic development model to transform the City of Maribor, as an urban centre, in the areas of integrated waste management, wasteful energy and wastewater, based a policy of the circular economy as a material, energy and water strategy for the use of recovered waste, excess energy and purified water. The integration model also includes the community's involvement as a cooperative economy. The presentation of the Wcycle Maribor project sat under the framework of the European Week of Cities and Regions, in October 2016, in Brussels and with the support of former European Commissioner Dr Janez Poto─Źnik, the concept was presented to the citizens of Maribor in November 2016. The Municipality's council had approved the concept in March 2017, which confirmed the further development of the project and the establishment of the Wcycle Institute Maribor (IWM) - Institute for the Circular Economy.

The strategy for the transition of the City of Maribor into a circular economy as well as the Wcycle project is a modular system for managing all of the resources that are available in the municipality and the broader urban environment. The company's municipal offices are primarily equipped for the development of the necessary projects but so far, they have not had interoperability capabilities, which is a fundamental principle in the transition from a linear to a circular economy. Only close cooperation among public companies, citizens, industry and the local government can lead to a successful, interconnected system that optimises resources and economic, environmental and social results. This is a long-term project of transition to a different organisation of society, which provides development-oriented management of resource flows in the local and regional environment.

The purpose of the strategy and the Wcycle project is cross-sectoral cooperation in the processing and re-use of material, energy and aquatic waste sources. The implementation of a circular economy model in Maribor is organised around six selected sectors (pillars). The expected outcome of these activities will be the emergence of new business opportunities for the Municipality, citizens and industry, the creation of high-quality, predominantly green jobs, new added value and a new economic boost. In order to meet the general goal of the strategy, radical new ways of thinking are needed. This approach is truly innovative in all aspects of implementation - technological, organisational, social, cultural and behavioral. The idea is based on the foundation that companies and institutions in the urban environment share information and work together to achieve the highest possible re-use of resources.

The starting point for the implementation of the Wcycle Strategy and the Wcycle Project is that the city does not want landfill or a waste incinerator, which the citizens of Maribor have repeatedly expressed publicly. Therefore waste, surplus energy and wastewater generated by one sector must be used as a new source in the operation of another sector, once processed. This will be connected through the development of an interactive information support tool. The project covers an innovative system of the circular economy, which does not yet exist and is now complementary to the principles of a cooperative economy. The strategy, as a basic document at the local government level, makes it easier to implement the project and gives a clear signal that Maribor, as one of the first cities in the European Union, is being strategically moved to a circular economy.

In April 2017, Wcycle Maribor - Institute for Circular Economy was established by the five companies that are owned or majority-owned by the Municipality to implement the Wcycle Strategy and Project. IWM is the umbrella organisation responsible for implementing projects within the strategy, founding enterprises, citizens and private entities. In just a few months, IWM is successfully implementing the concept which is rapidly gaining national and international recognition. The Wcycle project received the first Future of Cities Award in 2017, and the Municipality, in cooperation with IWM as part of Urban Innovative Actions, acquired the Urban Soil 4 Food project, which will bring EUR 3m from the European Union but also a number of positive effects for citizens.

Maribor will do everything to ensure that the development and implementation of the Wcycle Project, as a model of efficient sectoral urban resource management, will be a successful story which the citizens of Maribor will be proud of. For the currently recognised needs of the urban area of Maribor, IWM has already designed 18 projects in the area of efficient resource management, at an estimated implementation value of more than EUR 50m, to be realised by the end of 2020. Projects are not financially based on the conditions for obtaining grants, real investment money, there are many good projects. Time will show whether Maribor will be an example for the other cities of an urban circular economy, however due to the concrete actions and development goals, the state already informally recognises Maribor as the centre of the circular city for the development potential of the country.


More from Nekategorizirano